By George Ellidge
NAPLES, by Peter Gunn (Chapman and Hall, 42s.).
WOULD you like to see and know Naples? Of the recent books about that most fascinating of south European cities, this is certainly the most revealing and enlightening. As we read it we see the splendour and squalor of a beautiful city where lovely churches, splendid mansions and palaces mingle their yellowing white stone with the red brick and cracked, peeling pink, yellow and pale blue stucco of the tottering, squeezed together houses of the
In this book the author traces. most vividly. the story of the Greek colony that became, in turn a Roman settlement, a spoil of the Goths and a Byzantine conquest.
Then Naples was captured and ruled by she Normans. Charles VIII of France took it from Normandy. Before Garibaldi united it with the other Italian states, Naples was held by Spain, Austria and finally the Bourbons.
ALL these many and various civilisations have left their mark on Naples-and on the Neapolitans. Mr. Gunn sub-titles his book a "palimpsest". That is an old manuscript which has been rubbed clean and smooth enough to be written on again. So is Naples, as Mr. Gunn describes it.
All the ancient traces -buildings and local characteristics-can be seen in Naples today. It's long history can be seen in the modern Naples. This is the picture Mr. Gunn rightly gives us. See Naples in this magnificently illustrated book. It is certainly just about the best introduction to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
RECENT books published in paperback editions include THE WISE MAN FROM THE WEST by Vincent Cronin (Fontana Books, 3s. 6d.); ELECTED SILENCE by Thomas Merton, with a preface by Evelyn Waugh (Universe Books Ss.); STORIES OF DON BOSCO by Peter Coppin, S.D.B. (Don Bosco Publications, 3s. 6d.); THE FOOTSTEPS OF ANNE FRANK by Ernst Schnabel (Pan, 2s. 6d.); DRAGOMAN TO A TRAITOR by Eric Williams (Pan. 2s. 6d.); and THE HOME AQUARIUM by John S. Vinden (Pan, 2s. 6d.).